More Reviews

Dr. Jeffrey L. Smalldon

More Reviews

Dr. Jeffrey L. Smalldon

Maybe there’s a pretentious bone somewhere in Jeffrey Smalldon’s body. If there is, you won’t find evidence of it in the pages of That Beast Was Not Me. His book is a fascinating memoir of his five decades of tangling with the likes of Charles Manson, Squeaky Fromme, Susan Atkins, Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, Donald Harvey, and Thomas Lee Dillon.

While reading Beast, I was struck by Smalldon’s disarming candor. It’s one of the qualities that makes it possible for him to move back and forth between two very different perspectives: that of an inquisitive but inexperienced undergraduate student, eager to discover avenues of direct access to the minds of Manson and his disciples; and that of a board-certified forensic psychologist, which is what he became years later, after two of his co-workers were savagely slain by an unknown assailant at the large private general hospital where he was then an administrator.

Smalldon has produced a sprawling, page-turner of a book that’s at once entertaining, instructive, and utterly unique. And did I mention that his father was a career special agent with the FBI?

Take it from someone who knows: Smalldon’s a mindhunter — and a crack shot at that. If you’re a fan of true crime, you’ll love That Beast Was Not Me.

John Douglas
Author (with Mark Olshaker) of MindhunterThe Anatomy of Motive; Journey Into Darkness; The Cases That Haunt Us; and Obsession

That Beast Was Not Me is unique among true crime-related memoirs. Its author, forensic psychologist Jeffrey Smalldon, writes with unusual candor and plenty of hard-earned wisdom about the decades he spent sparring with Charles Manson, Squeaky Fromme, Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, and others of their ilk. If you like true crime, I recommend that you buy a ticket and take the ride on this dark magic bus of a book.

Peter Vronsky
Author of Serial Killers; Female Serial Killers; America’s Serial Killers; and Sons of Cain

After his college professor suggested he write a letter to Charles Manson, Jeff Smalldon embarked on a 50-year odyssey into the twisted minds of mass and serial killers.

In this riveting book, we hear the voices of the world’s most notorious murderers as they try to justify their acts and their lives. The best action, however, plays out in the psychological space between the killers and the people who comprise their audience. It is in that space where we witness how Smalldon reacts to each exchange and then plans his next move, how the killers impact his well-being and challenge his sense of self, and how, over the long haul, these intense and troubling encounters with evil irrevocably change Smalldon and shape his vocation as a forensic psychologist.

With humor, literary flair, and deep psychological insight, Dr. Smalldon tells a fascinating tale about the worst people on the planet, and about ourselves.

Dr. Dan P. McAdams
The Henry Wade Rogers Professor of Psychology and Human Development at Northwestern University, and the author of Power, Intimacy, and the Life Story; The Stories We Live By; The Art and Science of Personality Development; The Redemptive Self; and The Strange Case of Donald Trump: A Psychological Reckoning

What a book! From page one, That Beast Was Not Me grabbed me by the lapels and refused to let go. Jeffrey Smalldon is an undeniable expert on murder and murderers, but to my pleasant surprise, he’s also a first-rate storyteller. Come for the fascinating insights into the killers and cases you thought you knew (Manson, Gacy, Bundy), but stay for the stories you’ve never heard before — and will never forget.

Joe Oestreich
Author of Hitless Wonder; Lines of Scrimmage; and Partisans: Essays

While most folks would rather not spend a great deal of time thinking about serial killers, and if given the chance to speak with one would likely offer a resounding no, forensic psychologist Jeffrey Smalldon has spent the last 50 years doing just that. And for those of us who understand that delving into the minds of these very dark individuals is a worthy undertaking, we can be thankful that Smalldon has put his experiences to print with the publication of That Beast Was Not Me. This is one of those excellent works that comes along only so often. Don’t miss it!

Kevin M. Sullivan
Author of The Bundy Murders: A Comprehensive History and five other books about the Bundy case; and Through An Unlocked Door: In Walks Murder

Jeffrey Smalldon spent 50 years staring into the abyss and returning with incredible revelations about the minds and motives of serial killers, mass murderers, and all sorts of other evil men who move and live among us. That Beast Was Not Me might make it difficult for you to sleep at night because of its troubling insights, and because you’ll be eager to find out what’s coming on the next page. Only a skilled psychologist could coax the worst killers to talk so candidly and then pen such an intriguing memoir about his experiences — and that description fits Dr. Smalldon perfectly.

Pete Earley
New York Times bestselling author of The Hot House: Life Inside Leavenworth Prison; Prophet of Death; and The Serial Killer Whisperer

I spent years as a crime reporter and interviewed murderers, rapists, and all kinds of other criminals, but I never mined their brains at anywhere near the depth that Jeff Smalldon manages in That Beast Was Not Me, his memoir of five decades of conversations with killers. You might think you know the stories of Charles Manson, John Wayne Gacy, and serial sniper Thomas Lee Dillon, but Smalldon reveals insights that you won’t find anywhere else. His book is well written, gritty, and terrifying. Read it!

Robin Yocum
Author of A Brilliant Death; Favorite Sons; The Sacrifice of Lester Yates; A Welcome Murder; and Dead Before Deadline

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